In the seventh century, a Zen Patriarch said that to live without anxiety about non-perfection is the key to happiness. I find it enlightening that people were dealing with the same issues in the seventh century as we are now and the statement itself is profound.
How often do we worry about our imperfections? It is what most of our negative self talk is about. When I look in the mirror I sometimes think I look beautiful but often I see my wrinkles, my blemishes, the pouch on my belly or other faults and I think if only... If only I was thinner or younger. But then what?
And we aren't comfortable with our imperfections in so many ways. At work, we may feel we don't measure up. Or as a parent, we may feel we are not patient enough. As a friend, we may feel we don't fit in.
In the book, Awakening Joy by James Baraz, he writes that Abraham Maslow, the famed psychologist, states that beyond the need for the basic necessities of food and shelter our number one priority is to feel that we belong. I think the feeling of belonging and the acceptance of our imperfections go hand in hand. It is hard to have one without the other. And if Maslow is right that the feeling of belonging is a prime necessity than it follows that we need to learn to love ourself.
Forgiving ourself for not being perfect or not living up to some standard that we ingrained into our psyche is a key to letting ourself be authentic. It is only when we can love our true self, faults and all, that we can feel we belong in our family, our work life, our friendships and the world at large.